Tip #1: if you have access to any mirrors or glass then packing a dry erase marker means you’ve got yourself a white board!
I thought people may be interested in some of my tips, tricks and links for homeschooling when you are everywhere but at home. The first thing to consider is your destination, I pack differently for the length of the trip and for how much traveling will happen during the trip (road trip vs. staying put). For the trip we are currently on I had to consider the fact that we’d be gone for 2 months, definitely long enough that I didn’t want to just let math wait entirely. Also I already knew that once we reached our destination we’d be staying put and not traveling from hotel to hotel, so I could get a little comfy in our space and bring supplies accordingly. The other thing I knew about this trip is that since we were visiting a foreign country the language and culture lessons would be rich, vibrant and constant. No need to pack a social studies curriculum or a foreign language curriculum when I’d rather we just go outside and meet people!
Tip #2: Get organized! Get some sort of small notebook for each student like these shown here.
On the front page I wrote their morning and evening routines that are very similar to what they do at home (slightly simplified for while we are here). We’ve had some form of this for about a decade in our home (seriously, I think you can find an old post about this on this blog somewhere). I don’t want to have to repeat myself constantly in the morning (did you brush your teeth? did you brush your teeth? did you brush your teeth?) or keep track of when one kid says yes and the others are still nos. To be honest at home I’m not even typically up or available in the morning when they are starting their day. They have their list, they have their alarm clocks, they know when to show up to school- I’m probably somewhere else sipping tea slowly. Now that my kids are older this list may seem super easy and possibly unnecessary but I keep it because it means that they don’t have to be FULLY mentally awake to start their day, the alarm can go off and they can just get going without needing to think/remember/decide what to do next.
The last page of the books I wrote a brainstorm list for myself of all the subjects and possible resources that I could assign them on any given day. Each kid has a slightly different and unique list (older two are doing Biology but youngest isn’t, daughter is writing a novel but the boys aren’t etc) and so this list means I don’t have to dig too deep when I’m trying to remember what to assign on any given day. The other pages in the books are dated and I made a list for each day (I’m only filling this out one week at a time in advance) with their assignments. At the end of the day it is on their ‘to do’ list to go and find these books and add in anything else that just happened to happen as well (went on a hike? PE, helped cook a new Japanese recipe? Culinary Arts) – they add a checkmark or X by things when they are completed. These lists have some flexibility because really I don’t know all that could happen in our week. So days like today when amazing opportunities open up we go for them and don’t let a little book dictate what we can and can’t learn.
Now let’s get into some of the curriculum I decided to pack from home. I decided to bring math for everyone, science curriculum for the two oldest and filled in other subjects with a variety of resources that I’ll describe below.
My oldest two are using Math U See right now https://www.mathusee.com/
I brought with me their calculators, 3 pencils each, 1 pencil sharpener, 2 white gummy erasers, a spiral notebook for each of them, their math DVD, and only the books or parts of books we’d need for the weeks we’d be gone.
Tip #3: You don’t always have to pack the whole book. If they had a workbook then I took a razor blade to the binding to cut the pages off that we didn’t need. Don’t forget to pack the answer book!
For my youngest we are currently trying out Saxon for him, so far it has been a huge success! https://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?subject=Mathematics/10&category=Saxon+Math/2074
Both of my oldest are currently working through Biology (one just starting the book and one just finishing). https://www.apologia.com/cms/3/homeschool-high-school-biology
Tip #4: Get a digital version to pack instead of a heavy textbook. I was able to pick up a CD-ROM of the textbook (which I own at home) this past summer at a used curriculum sale. This was a great find because it meant I didn’t need to pack the textbook at all! In addition to this all they have is a spiral bound notebook for writing notes in during their reading.
Tip #5: Everything is on Youtube. While we are here they are using youtube and so far have found videos for almost all of the experiments that we otherwise would not be able to do right now due to a lack of supplies or space. When we get home they will pick up where ever they are and start doing experiments themselves.
My daughter is finishing up a novel she is writing using One Year Adventure Novel. http://oneyearnovel.com/
She has passed 60,000 words and is almost done. The only thing she had to bring with her is the disks from her curriculum and her laptop.
Tip #6: Save your files someplace other than just with you on the trip. All important is a way to be sure the data is backed up as she goes along. If you are doing school when you’re out and about and the only place you have to save something is locally on the device you are working with then consider emailing a copy of the file to yourself or someone else just in case.
All three kids were assigned to post to this blog as part of their writing homework while they are here. Its fun to listen to them discuss and plan their blog posts with each other, coordinating themes or who covers which days. I only required them each to write once a week and so far they are far exceeding my expectations. Each of them have been able to learn a lot through the process of using the blog. As an added bonus they have blogged so much that I think I’ll have this all printed in a photobook when we get home. They are doing the scrapbooking for me and their writing assignments have lasting value to our whole family- win, win!
The only other thing I packed that is an actual book is this resource. https://www.amazon.com/Evelyn-Seven-Day-Reading-Learning-Program/dp/1566194024/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507092879&sr=8-1&keywords=evelyn+wood+speed+reading
We started it when we were at home and I wanted to finish it here. I am going through this with my highschoolers and it has helped them tremendously. Right now they are trying out a new style of note taking that they learned in this book and using it when they read their Biology assignments as well as when they watch Great Course videos. I’m thrilled with the speed and retention that they’ve had since we started working through this book.
Tip #7: ALL THE ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES!!!
There are so many tools available to you via the internet, far more than I’ll mention here. I’ll keep this list just to what I’m using so far while we are on this trip. Depending on where you travel, if internationally, you may not be able to access all your same websites that you can access at home. You may have to be flexible, try new websites and/or route your internet to access your VPN at home 😉 Remember to pack your library cards if your library has reciprocal benefits like mine does and you’ll need your card number.
Audio Books and Ebooks: These can be checked out via Hoopla, Overdrive, Amazon Kindle Unlimited and others. Consider finding books with themes that will compliment your trip.
Educational Videos: Try Youtube (The Q, Steve Spangler), Hoopla (The Great Courses), BrainPOP (even if you aren’t a member they have daily free videos you can watch). My kids each were able to pick a Great Course of their choosing and are watching videos while taking notes.
Language resources: Duolingo (great app and also available online), TinyCards (great app that we have been using to learn Hiragana and Katakana BUT they have an endless supply of other flashcard topics, this is also available online and so you don’t need a smart device to access this great resource!), JapanesePOD101.com (this one we tried the free trial and are totally sold on, what a great resource for language learning!)
Other: KhanAcademy, this resource is another one like Tiny Cards app and BrainPOP where the subjects covered are so vast that its hard to categorize. Depending on your kid they may enjoy learning at this website for hours or be ‘eh’ about it. My kids have been either of these at different times.
Tip #8: Nature journals! Each kid has a sketch book that they have brought with us on our various park/hike outings. These have been perfect for them to pull out during our trips to sketch something. 2 out of 3 of my kids love this 😉
FINAL TIP: Don’t schedule too much! With all the curriculum and books and supplies we have at home it was really hard to pare down my list. Flying meant I needed to be mindful of weight requirements so that helped but more important than space limitations are time limitations. There are only so many hours in a day and traveling is one big field trip already- don’t plan so much that your kids have their noses in books instead of out seeing the world! I had to really think about what I expected our days to look like, how much of each day I expected to be spent on ‘school work’ and then plan accordingly- for most of us that means cutting that mental list in half one more time. I only give my kids 2-4 assignments a day while we are here. Their end list each day will be longer because after the bookwork comes the life work and we are out and about enjoying PE, language, culture and so much more!